Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe plans whet DRWC appetites

Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe plans to bring its headquarters, a theater, and a gastro-pub to the interesting-but-empty red brick building across Delaware Avenue from Race Street Pier.

And on the Race Street side of the building, the organization hopes to create a public and civic plaza for outdoor events and dining. The plaza would take a lot of design cues from Race Street Pier, Gabe Canuso of D3 Development, the owners representative and development manager, told Delaware River Waterfront Corporation Board Friday.

“People can kind of flow, and come and go between the two,” he said.

Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe will have 2,500 square feet of office space in its new home, Canuso said. The  theater will be between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet. The indoor gastro-pub will stay open year round, and during the warmer months of the year, a 225 seat picnic-style outdoor dining venue is envisioned, Canuso said.

The arts organization is working with design firm WRT, he said. One of their challenges will be coming up with a way to muffle the outdoor plaza from the sound of I-95, and provide a little weather protection.

Canuso showed preliminary renderings of what is imagined for the site, and DRWC board members were audibly appreciative of what they saw.

Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe has an agreement of sale for the former water pumping station, and a closing date scheduled for late November. Canuso said the project will be designed so it may be done in phases, but the offices, a theater and restaurant should be “up and running by July of next year.”

Board members and staff of DRWC, the quasi-city agency that oversees development of public waterfront land and is developing the master plan for the redevelopment of the entire waterfront, have been thrilled ever since the arts organization first expressed interest in the red brick building.

They believe this is evidence that the public projects – such as Race Street Pier – are attracting further development. And that this development in particular will bring more people to the waterfront, and that will encourage still more development.

So Friday’s meeting was a bit of a mutual admiration society. “We’re so excited about all the things you are doing on the waterfront,” Canuso told the board. “We’re happy and excited to be part of it.”

Another way Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe is part of it

While Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe won’t permanently move to the neighborhood for some time, one of their big events – FEASTIVAL – comes to the waterfront this fall.  And DRWC President Tom Corcoran says it will be “the coming out party” for one of DRWC’s assets – Pier 9.
FEASTIVAL is a fundraiser for Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe that features live performances by Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe artists and food from top local chefs. See the website to learn more.
Organizers promise to transform Pier 9 – the covered pier next to Pier 11 – into a chic, urban space.
For years, it’s been a very large garage with very good bones. Earlier this year, DRWC repaired the roof and windows. And a feasibility study to assess just what the pier might become in the future is coming.


Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

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